Mairia Cahill : ‘A Woman alone with the IRA’


“A force to be reckoned with” – Enda Kenny , Taoiseach, Ireland.

“Incredibly courageous” – First Minister Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland

At the age of 16, Mairia Cahill was subjected to a year long cycle of abuse by IRA man Martin Morris, and subsequently subjected to two illegal internal “investigations” by the IRA, during which, she was forced to face her abuser in a “Kangaroo Court”.  Senior republicans, including the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, were aware of her abuse and the IRA investigation, yet a code of silence was imposed as they closed ranks and protected themselves.


In October 2014, Mairia waived her lifetime right to anonymity to tell BBCNI Spotlight reporter Jennifer O’Leary of her experiences, and susbequent collapse of court cases, shown in the RTS Award winning documentary produced by Chris Thornton, entitled; “A Woman Alone with the IRA”.


A tsunami of wall to wall media coverage followed. Mairia’s case was the subject of Parliamentary Debates, both in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and Dail Eireann.


Despite Sinn Fein denials of the cover up of sexual abuse, Mairia forced them into a position where they admitted that the IRA moved sex offenders around jurisdictions.  She provided An Gardai Siochana (the Irish police service) with over 40 names of suspected abusers, and an investigation is currently ongoing.

Mairia was subject to intimidation and abuse from Sinn Fein Supporters, which she described when she accepted the Irish Labour Party’s prestigious James Larkin Thirst for Justice Award, presented to her in February 2015.

In March 2015, Mairia took part in another BBCNI Spotlight progamme, “Breaking the Silence”,  when Louth man Paudie Mc Gahon also waived his right to anonymity to speak of his rape by an IRA man, and having to take part in an IRA Kangaroo Court, which was arranged by a Sinn Fein member.

In May 2015, Sir Keir Starmer produced a report for the Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service, in which he found serious failings on how Mairia’s court cases were handled.  The Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra Mc Grory offered both a personal and public apology to her stating “We let you down, and for that I am sorry”.

In October 2015, the Irish Labour Party declared Mairia as their candidate in the Seanad by-election. She subsequently won the election, with the highest number of political votes in a by-election in the history of the Irish state. She used her term as a Senator to raise issues of abuse and domestic violence, as well as conflict issues in Northern Ireland.

Mairia was awarded a special recognition award at the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year awards in November 2015.

Mairia continues with her campaign to ensure the lid is lifted on how the Republican Movement covered up sexual abuse, and occasionally writes for The Sunday Independent and The Belfast Telegraph.



3 thoughts on “Mairia Cahill : ‘A Woman alone with the IRA’

  1. I like many young men grew up in the 80’s and listened to my Dad’s boys own stories of The IRA. I worshipped them. They were my army. Researching Maria’s story I am ashamed that I thought that way. How many people in Sinn Fein used their positions to carry out criminal activities and sexual assualts? I hope Maria gets the justice deserves. But don’t think she is defined by this. She is well informed in all aspects of social justice and political life. Follow her on twitter, she’s witty and has alot of time for her followers.


  2. First I would like to say that I am very proud of Máiría’s brave decision to stand against what was, and is, a monolithic organisation, especially in the area of Belfast that she lived. This takes real courage and is an example to other victims of abuse at the hands of not just The Provisional Movement but other monolithic organisations, for example, the Catholic Church and other religious organisations. I personally saw Máiría being mercilessly bullied and her name libelled by a PSF autonomon online and messaged her to let her know of my support and the encouragement that she gave other victims of abuse.

    By no means does my unconditional support for Máiría mean that I think all members of the Provisionals were guilty, many brave men and women, of courage and conviction, joined that org, many spent decades in prison or laid down their lives in the pursuit of national liberation. However, as Máiría’s account gathered momentum, the buck began and stopped with the Provisional leadership and they were found very much wanting. Those who then closed ranks and took part in a concerted slur campaign against her should feel shame and self-loathing. This was a young girl subjected to sexual abuse, kangaroo courts, threats and in time all the arsenal of slurs that could be thrown against her. Many would have been silenced and/or self exiled at any point in this treatment, yet Máiría displayed true courage that the PRM must never have expected.

    I can remember my late Father telling me when I faced painful medical procedures as a child that “true courage” is not to be immune to pain but to feel fear of pain and still face it.” Máiría is an example of this “true courage!”


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